The Goal of Sacred Magic

I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets. (Lumen fidei)

Tomberg next tackles the question of the goal or purpose of sacred magic. This goal is freedom. Of course, this ties back to the Holy Spirit, whose action in the world is totally free. The presumption here is that man is not free, but must be liberated from the various forces that bind him. This differs from the modern secular mindset which follows Rousseau’s dictum: “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains.” Tomberg’s response is that man is enslaved to various forces and must be born again in order to become free.

On the material plane, this is freedom from various physical maladies. Thus the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead rise. Also, good news or a role model is given to the poor and free will restored to those possessed by malign spirits. Thus, Tomberg concludes that healing is not the ultimate purpose, but really the means to the end of true freedom.

This freedom includes liberation from the domination of doubt, fear, hate, apathy, and despair.

Evil Spirits

The evil spirits do not forcibly deprive man of his freedom. On the contrary, those beings take advantage of man’s freedom and use thus employ temptation as their weapon. Hence, possession by an evil spirit is something else. In the case of possession, man gives rise to an elemental being and then becomes the slave of his own creation. Thus, the evil spirits of the New Testament are not the devils who go by the name of Satan, etc., but are actually neurotic psychological complexes: viz., obsessions, phobias, etc.

Nevertheless, they are still real since they are independent of the conscious human will and tend to enslave it. The Devil does not participate directly in that, since he observes the law that protects human freedom. Hence, it is not the devil that we should fear, but rather the perverse inclinations within us.  It is the latter that can deprive us of our freedom and enslave us. The depravity of man’s warped imagination is more dangerous than the Devil and all his legions. That is because man is not bound by the law respecting man’s freedom. Hence, some of the worst examples in history cannot simply be attributed to the devil, but are really the result of various human collectives.

The Role of Sacred Magic in the World

If freedom is the goal of sacred magic, then who, or what, is waiting for it, desires it, and is always ready to receive it. After quoting Romans 8:19-23,

For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

Tomberg concludes that this includes the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms – hence all of nature is the domain of sacred magic since it desires to be free of the bonds of necessity. The reason for sacred magic arises from the Fall, including the Fall of nature, man, and even the hierarchies of evil. It is first necessary to see how this works in the deliverance of man.

Sacred magic is unlike personal magic. The latter operates by hypnosis, suggestion, necromancy, etc. Sacred magic is opposed to all these:

Personal Magic Sacred Magic
Hypnosis The awakening of free will
Suggestion Deliverance from psychopathology
Evocation of the necromancer The ascent to the deceased by the strength of love
Evocation of elementals in ceremonial magic The gain of their confidence and friendship
Enslavement of evil spirits in practical Kabbalah The resistance to their temptations

Those unfamiliar with the use of hypnosis and suggestion in personal magic may be interested in this four part essay on Emile Coué.

Curiously, Tomberg claims that by resisting devils, they will become your friends. That is because they, too, are awaiting the manifestation of the children of God. A devil is not an atheist and does not doubt God. Rather, he has no faith in man.

Bearing Burdens

Ultimately, sacred magic involves taking on others’ burdens, even unhealthy ones. Sacred magic necessarily serves the good. Personal magic may or may not serve the good … that is an essential difference.

The actual practice of sacred magic, including its various formulas and gestures, derive from, and are confirmed by, revelation. Tomberg lists, of course, the Holy Bible, particularly John’s Gospel. Then the other gospels and the Book of Revelation, etc. In the Old Testament, there are principally the Psalms, Genesis, and Ezekiel. He adds the traditional liturgy as well as the writings of the saints and mystics. He ends his list with the Emerald Table of Hermes Trismegistus.

If anyone finds the last entry out of place, perhaps we can consider these words from Vladimir Solovyov in Lectures on Divine Humanity:

The great fathers of the ancient Church affirmed that even before Christ’s incarnation, the same divine Reason that was revealed in Him enlightened with the eternal truth the inspired wise men of paganism, these Christians before Christ. … Although the close inner connection between Alexandrian theosophy and the Christian doctrine is one of the firmly established theses of Western scholarship, for one reason or another, this perfectly correct thesis does not enjoy common acknowledgment in our theological literature.

Solovyov ended the passage with the promise to show the relationship between Christian doctrine and that of Hermes Trismegistus, but that essay never appeared. Perhaps, Tomberg’s text can be considered as an expansion of the project that Solovyov announced but never completed.

Mystery and Secret

Now, although these gestures and formulae are not “secrets”, they must nevertheless not be betrayed. Betrayal comes from their abuse. We can surely infer how Tomberg would feel about the abuses of the Mass that are happening so often in our time.

A mystery is protected by the light. Referring back to our epigram, it is clear that this light is the light of faith, a light that restores our sight. An Arcanum both reveals and conceals. Although anyone can “see” the Arcanum, there can be no revelation arising from it without that light.

Perhaps now we are in a position to consider the spiritual meaning of the physical healings in the gospel:

  • The spiritually blind see through the light of faith
  • The deaf hear the Holy Spirit by stilling the mind
  • The spiritually dead are born again, from above
  • Sinners are made clean
  • The poor in spirit are set free from their perverse inclinations
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